“I Mean, We’re Social Animals, You Know?”

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I was curled up under the covers last night trying to wind down after a long, busy day at work. This is accomplished through a combination of chamomile mint tea and watching Chicago Fire on my iPad. The normally action-packed firefighter drama (the best genre of television, right behind cop dramas) was surprisingly heartwarming as it followed an older fireman’s venture into the world of online dating.

Chicago FireMeet Mouch, short for “Man Couch,” a very accurate nickname given to him by his department buddies. After a failed relationship, these same buddies sign Mouch up for romance on a dating site called Golden Oldies — Match.com for older folks. At first he’s mortified, but after some tweaks to his profile photo (no bad boy leather jackets, please), he gets a “hit.” It leads to a date.

His firehouse brethren coach him on the ins and outs of dating, like saying hello before jumping into a 15-minute, intense menu-reading session. And with some hot tips (from hot firefighters) in his back pocket, Mouch sets off for his date.

The beginning of the date is awkward, per usual. Been there, done that. But then Mouch mans up and asks his beautiful date a thoughtful question.

“So what drew you to Golden Oldies?”

Goodness, I just loved her response.

Chicago Fire“Well, I’m very happy by myself. But I just moved here from Pittsburgh and I was reading this article about prisons. And the author made a point that the most severe punishment in any culture is solitary confinement. I mean, we’re social animals, you know? We need to be around others. And if it doesn’t come easily, then gosh darn it, just get on a website and make an effort! At least that’s what I did.”

This woman — in her fifties — has more guts than most of my 20- and 30-year-old friends. More of a positive outlook. More plain, old common sense.

And Mouch’s immediate response?

“I like you.”

I was struck by this short, playful scene in an otherwise heart-pounding action show. (Have I mentioned the hot firefighters yet?) If you’re like me, you’ve been single for a while. You’ve gone on a few dates here and there, but nothing amounted to anything serious. You’ve grown tired of putting yourself out there, of trying to make it happen. It’s exhausting and discouraging and sometimes downright unfair.

But then a scene like this pops up and I’m reminded of the practicality of it all — of the reality we’re caught up in. Me sitting at home catching up on my Hulu queue isn’t helping my social life. We all need downtime once in a while, but it goes against our human nature to always do it alone. Like Mouch’s date said, we’re social animals. We’re just wired that way. Putting ourselves out there doesn’t just apply to dating; it applies to life. We are built for community.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you were around for my online dating phase and resulting play-by-play commentary. No one can accuse me of not giving that an honest shot. eHarmony, Match.com, a short stint on Christian Mingle, an even shorter stint on a freakish video-chat dating site that caught me off guard and turned on my camera while I was sitting makeup-less in my pajamas eating a blueberry scone. (Could’ve been worse, I know. But I still closed my laptop with lightning speed. Now I pull the Emily Freeman / Edward Snowden and cover my webcam with sticky notes.)

I took a break from online dating because it got tiring and uneventful. If you’ve never done it, you don’t understand. It’s tedious. It has its bright moments. (I get it. You know someone who got married off eHarmony. Thank you for enlightening me.) Still mostly tedious.

But hearing the scripted words of this first-date character got me thinking I’ll try it again. A friend recently passed on a free code to Christian Mingle — a site I didn’t like at all the last time around. But I believe in second chances. I’m open minded. I’m fearless. Plus, my Hulu queue is empty.

So I’m working up the courage to give it another shot.

After all, I did get this Facebook message this morning:

photo

Oy vey. Here goes nothing!

~Ruth

 

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